by Latoya Burnham
Pharmacists are increasingly being asked to have paid consultations with clients.
And while both the Barbados Pharmaceutical Society and the Barbados Association of Private Pharmacy Owners say it is not something they had planned, they note they are open to the idea of being paid for their time, beyond regular consultations. It is also one of the reasons, the latter organisation is pushing for a pharmaceutical Bachelors’ degree from 2014/2015.
President of the BPS, Bandele Serrano said about three-quarters of the enquiries they had received as an organisation during this Pharmacy Week had been persons asking if they can pay for consultations. He said over the week pharmacists had been emphasising that patients should know what they were taking and how it should be used before they left the pharmacy.
As a result, not only are patients asking, but organisations are also requesting talks and consults on medicines, he told Barbados TODAY.
“It is a strange thing because we don’t know what to do because these are things we would usually do. People are coming I have a ‘bariffle’ of things I am taking, can I bring them all to you and you tell me if they can work and they would have been going to the pharmacy every day and never thought to ask a question. We have so far gotten three or four requests from organisations wanting us to come and speak to them… There is a definite need because people from organisations in nursing back down have been calling, ‘Can I have an appointment to come talk to our people about medicine?’.
“[Payment] was raised, not by us, it is nothing we brought up. Pharmacy is a dynamic profession and the public will decide on that. The public will decide if they pay for what they want. What I will say is that the regular consultations are free and will remain free because it is part of the service offered,” said the president.
He noted that most pharmacies were manned by a lone pharmacist, who also owned the business, and if services beyond the filling of a regular prescription and the consult that accompanies that were required, then reasonable persons would pay.
“If you come with a prescription, then the consult is free. You can’t fill a prescription and then tell the person they have to pay. With a prescription, fill it, and part of the process has to be a consult on that. That is what the person is paying for and I like the idea of someone being able to say I want half-hour of your time, can I pay for that. If the person is reasonable they will understand that it will cost. If you believe the pharmacists’ time is worth something, that person will pay. Everyone won’t do it, but if you see the pharmacist as a professional and decide to pay a fee there is nothing wrong with that.
“It is not something we sat down and worked out and said we will charge, that is not our intention, but it is something I believe will overtake us. The public will decide,” noted Serrano.
His colleague, the head of BAPO, David Lewis stated that he believed consultations should be something done if there was enough education on the part of the pharmacist to do so, and education was one of the key concerns of the association right now.
The president stated that beyond the continuing education programmes the BPS offered, BAPO had been in discussions with the Barbados Community College and the University of the West Indies to upgrade pharmacy courses to degrees.
“Continuing education, the upgrade of our colleagues, pharmacists, that is a major priority and focus of our push with society to upgrade the educational system in Barbados. For 2014/2015 I believe we have to have an upgrade on our Associates Degree to at least a Bachelor’s and that is not going to come for free. It is pretty expensive to do.”
Lewis added: “I am all for consultations for a fee, so long as the education is highlighted. Pharmacists have to ensure that they are properly taught how to consult… You have to know what you are doing. You can’t just say I am a consultant, you have to be taught to be a consultant. You need to be up to date, you need to complete a certain amount of continuing education and that can be completed through the Barbados Pharmaceutical Society and their continuing education programme.”
He said their thrust for a higher degree had been put to Government through the Association, which also acts as the negotiating arm of the Society.
“We are actually in discussion with UWI and Barbados Community College. There are things being put in place but obviously there are restrictions, some financial issues to be looked at, people to teach the courses and so on. Pharmacy though we have excellent teachers and lecturers at BCC, we need to be able to add the additional courses to make up the degree programme and seeking those courses and finalising it with BCC particularly is taking a while. You have to go through the process, but it is a long drawn out process,” said Lewis. [email protected]